13 Ways to Maintain Your Weight Loss

Weigh yourself regularly. Sounds too simple, but Dr. Sciamanna's research confirms what we first learned from the National Weight Control Registry. People who weigh themselves most often and most consistently are best at catching and releasing new pounds before those interlopers acquire residency status.

Plan your meals. You can maintain your weight with a low-fat, low-carb, or well-balanced diet; just pick one and stick with it. That takes planning. The Penn State team confirmed that people who successfully maintain their weight tend to eat the same things most of the time, but they vary what goes with these foods. A grilled-chicken salad will taste different if you use mixed greens with mustard vinaigrette instead of spinach with raspberry vinaigrette. Add chopped vegetables to the former and sliced fruit to the latter for even more variety. You're still having "a salad" for dinner. A standard meal that you can modify allows you to be consistent without being boring.

Make a list before you shop. The "plan your meals" bit works only if you also write down everything you need before you shop. Again, it's common sense, but it's uncommonly used.

Focus on process, not outcome. When you're losing weight, you think of an outcome and then find a process that takes you there. For weight maintenance, it helps to start with the process. Try these sustainable habits.

Drink a lot of water. The water itself may or may not be important for weight control, but the practice of drinking it throughout the day serves as a gentle between-meals reminder.

Eat the same number of meals a day. It doesn't matter if you have three, four, or six. You just can't skip a meal or planned snack. It disrupts your hunger cues and puts you at risk of eating stuff you'd typically avoid, or of overeating when you finally do eat.

Include fruits, vegetables, and/or lean protein in every meal. A large body of research, including Dr. Sciamanna's, shows the importance of eating protein and fresh, fiber-rich foods among those who successfully manage their weight.

Follow a consistent exercise routine. You don't have to crush it every time, but you do have to show up. Alwyn Cosgrove, C.S.C.S., owner of Results Fitness in Santa Clarita, California, suggests setting a monthly goal for workouts. Tell yourself you'll go 20 times and you'll force yourself to do four or five workouts a week.

Think like a winner. The latest research from the Penn State team shows a major attitude adjustment among people who win at permanent weight loss. If you want to join their ranks...

Reward yourself. Weight loss is about deprivation. Weight maintenance works best when you occasionally give in to temptation.

Remind yourself why you need to stay vigilant. You may be thinner on the outside, but inside you still have billions of depleted fat cells longing to return to their days of greasy glory. It helps to keep mementos of your inflated past. A photo on the fridge should work.

But don't forget your accomplishment. When you need a confidence boost, go to the mall to observe the well-fed fauna. Isn't it nice to know you're no longer a member of that herd?

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